"This is thoughtful, intelligent music, and though the band clearly have a sense of humour, they take their music extremely seriously – which, of course, is how it should be" - Review in Velvet Thunder by Steve Pilkington
Sometimes the name of a band can leave you under entirely the wrong impression about the material they actually purvey. Despite their superbly ‘English’ name, Hats Off Gentlemen It’s Adequate may in all likelihood fall into that very category. The name immediately conjures up a quirky English eccentricity embodied by the likes of Kevin Ayers, National Health or Stackridge, but despite the excellence of all of those artists, The Hats (as we should not call them) are a very different proposition. Their previous album, 2018’s Out Of Mind, contained the dark masterpiece Lidice, which told the harrowing tale of the village of the same name and its cynical and soulless destruction during WW2, and this latest effort rests on other such weighty themes, largely drawn from the world of dystopian Science Fiction. This is thoughtful, intelligent music, and though the band clearly have a sense of humour, they take their music extremely seriously – which, of course, is how it should be. Essentially, the band is the multi-instrumental duo of Malcolm Galloway and Mark Gatland, with able support coming from the masterful flute of Kathryn Thomas.
Two of the tracks here will already be familiar to keen followers of the band, with the instrumentals Ark and Chasing Neon having both already seen the light of day on the Ark EP. Both tracks are full of merit, and among the standouts here, with Chasing Neon finding the band embracing their inner Tangerine Dream, all pulsing sequencers and driving electronic momentum, while the lengthy Ark tells the story in music of HMS Ark Royal, on which Galloway’s father saw active service. Apart from these two tracks, the album is most certainly front-loaded with highlights, with the opening pair of Century Rain and Twin Earth opening things with a definite bang, and in a very ‘proggy’ form as well. After Ark we then get the cautionary Sci-Fi tale of Nanobotoma (spoiler: nanobots can be very bad things!) followed by the aforementioned propulsive electronica of Chasing Neon. That’s only about half of the album, but it’s worth remembering that at around 35 minutes or so, it’s practically an LP in its own right in the ‘old money’. Those five tracks would make a tremendous two sides of vinyl, without a doubt.
At this point we hit what might be termed the ‘centrepiece’ of the album, in the shape of the five-part ‘Redemption Ark’ Suite, in which a brilliantly realised Sci-Fi concept is brought to life through two vocal tracks and three instrumentals. Ironically, despite this being the most ambitious and thought-provoking section of the record in many ways, to these ears it is also the most flawed, for reasons I shall explain. The issue with these tracks, and in particular the three consecutive instrumental pieces, is that while careful study of the excellent liner notes in the booklet give a clear vision of what is being put across by the music, for anyone coming to this as a download, or even not reading the booklet, might well struggle with what could come across as rather disjointed. On the other hand, when primed with the full picture of what is going on, listening to the album with it playing in the ‘theatre of the mind’ conjures up imagery of one’s imagination which make all of the difference. In live performance this could be very strong. The two vocal tracks bookending the suite are also a game of two halves: Glitterband is an abrasive and slightly difficult listen which doesn’t quite hit the sweet spot, whereas Nostalgia For Infinity which wraps things up is a fine piece with a dramatic coda, closing things up in some style.
Only two pieces remain now, with the Floydian instrumental Voyager written to convey the satellite of that name as it continues to dance its way across the heavens, still transmitting data back until the day it finally goes ‘dark’. It’s a lovely, Floydian instrumental mood piece, with effective guitar and keyboard work, though there is perhaps a feeling that it threatens to grow into a big, expansive coda which never quite happens – but then again, Voyager itself isn’t exactly likely to run into something conjuring up a dramatic guitar solo before it stops transmitting, so in that sense the piece does what it says on the tin! The closer is a relatively short (four minute) piece entitled Sixth Extinction, with that dark Sci-Fi vibe all over it again, and the aggressive, powerful prog/metal feel of the track actually works extremely well. It’s not what you would immediately expect as an album closer, bit it does its job for sure.
The packaging is nice as well – in these days of downloads and streaming platforms, it’s always reassuring to see a release with some genuine benefits to having the physical item. In this case, the booklet contains not only the lyrics but also some detailed notes from Malcolm Galloway concerning the inspiration behind, and meaning of, the individual tracks. It’s not only fascinating to read – particularly for the Sci-Fi aficionado – but as mentioned above also significantly adds to the impact of some of the music.
Hats off, gents – this is more than adequate!
"Just brilliant; mixing and matching genres, taking risks and stepping well beyond genre limitations. I took it on knowing I had liked them live, and despite the Roger Waters tendency to avoid anything happy. But it is a joy now, months after the review. There is variety here, and beautifully written lyrics, and like the good stories you hear, it drove me to seek further information" - Prog-Watch / The Progressive Aspect - best albums of 2020 feature
"It really is a stunning piece of work, full of musical moods featuring epic guitar and flute passages. Hats Off Gentlemen It’s Adequate have absolutely nailed it on this album. One to immerse yourself in and give a deep listen." Review by Jason Ritchie in Get Ready To Rock
Hats Off Gentlemen It’s Adequate are Malcolm Galloway and Mark Gatland along with Kathryn Thomas on flute and vocals on one song.
The theme of the album is the frailty of civilisation, from a variety of perspectives, including 7 tracks inspired by the science fiction novels of author and former astrophysicist Alastair Reynolds, and others relating to nanotechnology, the Second World War, and environmental destruction.
All weighty subjects, however the album can be enjoyed on two levels with those who enjoy the themes and lyrics, along with others who enjoy melodic prog rock from the likes of Pink Floyd.
Some of these songs have been previously available on the ‘Ark’ EP including the dance electronica of ‘Chasing Neon’ and the aforementioned ‘Ark’, one of the best pieces of emotive music I have heard in ages.
It really is a stunning piece of work, full of musical moods featuring epic guitar and flute passages. Certainly reminds you a lot of Camel. Another instrumental highlight is ‘Voyager’, where the keys are to the forefront.
‘Glitterband’ sounds a little like the Pet Shop Boys, mainly in the vocals and backbeats. You do need to come into this album with an open mind on music as Hats Off Gentlemen It’s Adequate are masters of mixing musical ideas together and not sticking to the typical prog rock template some bands adhere to. The title track is a perfect example of that, swirling flute, keys and a steady beat match the vocals perfectly.
Hats Off Gentlemen It’s Adequate have absolutely nailed it on this album. One to immerse yourself in and give a deep listen. ****
Review by Jason Ritchie
"By far the most ambitious album I've heard this year." Prog Wereld (translated via Google Translate)
"My new number one progressive album of the year…so far. This is the sound and method of music making, with which epic progressive rock was made. So much Pink Floyd and “Lamb” era Genesis memories, you do not want it to end. What craftsmanship. This album is full of so many superlatives that I leave it to your ears to enjoy." Progressive Rock Central
Hats off Gentlemen it’s Adequate, (HoGiA), is a London, UK band that I have been trying to review for a couple of years. Their new album, Nostalgia for Infinity; their fifth, will be released on May 6, 2020.
They have released four critically successful albums before it: Invisible, the first back in 2012, When the Kill Code Fails, released in 2015, Broken but Still Standing, released in 2017, Stand up When I was a Ship, an EP released in 2018, Out of Mind, released in 2018, and Ark, released in 2019.
Nostalgia for Infinity is an album which describes “the frailty of civilization, from a variety of perspectives, including 7 tracks inspired by the science fiction novels of author and former astrophysicist Alastair Reynolds, and others relating to nanotechnology, the Second World War, and environmental destruction”.
HoGiA is a two man, and one-woman outfit that includes: Malcolm Galloway, on lead vocals, guitar, keyboards/synths, and programming; Mark Gatland, on bass guitar, additional guitars, keyboards/synths, and Chapman Stick; and Kathryn Thomas, on flute, (tracks 1,2,9-11), and vocals on track 10.
As you put on your headphones; and you really should for your first listen to this entire album, you are immediately surrounded by a wall of beautiful music, including unique keyboards, flute, bass and lead guitar on “Century Rain”. It is a warm and comfortable cocoon of sound, preparing you for the journey ahead. Malcolm Galloway’s first vocals, “I walked away. Left him in the gutter with his pamphlet crumpled. The old me might have tried. But I was tired…”. His vocals remind me of Tim Bowness of NoMan. The music has a Pink Floyd/Pineapple Thief sound, only Kathryn Thomas’ flute helps to distinguish the music early. The keyboard work is closest to early Tony Banks, but different. Galloway sings the familiar refrain, “Hidden in the grooves, hidden in the bootlegs. Flooded with fakes, complex encryption. Hard echo countdown delivery systems. Storm of numbers flooding my head. Fatal permutations, sabotage and triple agents.
Sirens call the century rain”. All the while Thomas’ flute echoes what could have been, if Peter Gabriel had been released to play more flute on earlier Genesis albums. A wonderful beginning to an epic album. Galloway’s lyrics are riveting.
“Twin Earth”, opens with cool drums and percussion…and the magnificent sound of Thomas’ flute. She lifts the sound higher as Galloway sings, “I landed on the sloping tower. Through the twisted iron and awkward angles. I watched the glacial war, The furies and the ice wall”. I am a keyboard lover first and foremost, and this band does a mag job on keys. But it is Thomas’ flute-work that captures the sound on this album. Better that ole Ian’s musings. Determined, at times replace the keys and help provide an even warmer, more human presence to the music. I don’t miss the keys when she is playing. When they combine her flute and the high keys, the sound is stellar. The piano keywork is wonderful halfway through the song.
“Ark”, is an instrumental song, full of progressive keys and wonder. Drums sound a powerful entrance of bass and lead guitar as the keys play on. The melody is familiar, but missing that wonderful flute, that set fire to the first two tracks. This is the longest track at over 11 minutes. There is a short pause just after 3:40 that ushers in some of the best Banks-like keyboard sounds I have heard since maybe …And then there were Three. Great lead electric guitar work follows, teamed with excellent formidable bass and expert drumming, with keys supporting. The raindrop – like piano keys that follow are perfect. The keyboards that end the song brought back many memories of Tony Banks at the helm of Genesis in the mid-70s.
“Nanobotoma”, opens with cool keys, bass and electric guitar. Galloway really sounds like Bowness on this track, “With retrospect scope in hand. It may seem obvious now. But remember I was dying at the time. And that can be quite distracting. These tiny machines, spreading through me, dividing me.
These tiny machines, spreading through me. Supposed to be saving me”. The hardest guitar rocker yet. But, those keys are awesome.
The next song, “Chasing Neon”, really will bring on memories of the NoMan sound, especially from their latest album, Love You to Bits. Full of cool keyboards and pulsating drums. A rhythmic arcade of music. The high keys are brilliant. Just what this album needed another cool shift in sound. But I am missing that flute. Just sit back, if you can sit still, and enjoy the flow of music through your ears on this one.
“Glitterband”, opens with soft plucked guitar, percussion, drums and some awfully cool synths and keys. Galloway sings, “Glitterband to rust belt, when the plague came. Tore apart the orbital canopy. Ten thousand ways to live, now all that glittered is just a stain, all that remains of our sanctuary”. The keyboards and sound effects are tremendous.
“Conjoiners”, opens with cool metal sound effects and the stillness of Vangelis – like keyboards. This is a Pink Floyd – like symphony of keys, not unlike Shine on you Crazy Diamond on the second side of WYWH. It is an excellent ride.
“Scorpio”, is a fast pace keyboard and drum explosion. Short…but oh so sweet.
“Inhibitors”, opens with mysterious sound effects and synths. Very spacey and welcoming. Then, it turns into sound effect magic like an excerpt from side two of The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway. Or as we Genesis fans call it affectionately , The Lamb. All the effects are brilliant, bit it’s the wind through Thomas’ flute, that is my favorite.
“Nostalgia for Infinity”, is the title track and my favorite. Kathryn Thomas narrates the opening in a whisper. Then, Thomas flies off on a brilliant flute solo that you don’t want to end. Galloway sings, “You don’t like what you’ve done. And I don’t like what you’ve done. But we don’t get to choose who we become. You don’t want to know what you could do. You’d keep yourself to ghosts if you could. Chose to come to life what could you do? Nostalgia for Infinity, look at you”. Thomas soars on flute again. Next album, please give Kathryn Thomas a flute solo.
“Voyager”, is another excellent instrumental full of keyboards and Pink Floyd/Pure Reason Revolution level, guitar and keyboard blending. Kathryn Thomas returns to add wonderful flute.
On “Sixth Extinction”, opens with cool fast electric bass and lead guitar, with drums supporting. Galloway almost raps, “The last five times you scraped through. Right place, right time, convenient body plan. A bit of luck with the winning streak stretch. It doesn’t have to be this way, it’s not yet too late. We could choose to change, if we could choose to change”. A great pounding track full of drums, percussion and harder edge electric guitar.
“Nostalgia for Infinity radio edit”, is a bonus track radio edit of the title track. A nice gift and addition. With more of Kathryn Thomas’s beautiful flute.
Nostalgia for Infinity is a long, innovative and expressive album, full of character. My new number one progressive album of the year…so far. This is the sound and method of music making, with which epic progressive rock was made. So much Pink Floyd and “Lamb” era Genesis memories, you do not want it to end. What craftsmanship. This album is full of so many superlatives that I leave it to your ears to enjoy. May cannot get here fast enough for fans. Please listen and buy this album. You, like me, will be a fan for life. Already looking to collect the back catalog.
In regard to the band’s name: Yes, gentlemen…this music is more than adequate….it is fantastic!
The interesting cover art was created by Mrs. White Photoart.
Probably the band with the longest name in the world, and sadly one I do not know anything about. They sent me the album but did not include any info with it. And I am still too lazy to search the internet… Oh well, on to the music then!
Since I have been playing this album for a couple of weeks now, I can tell you that I like the music on this album very much. The band thrive on a base of modern progressive rock, often referred to as neo-prog. But excel at adding various flavours to the mix. Think electronica or folky flute. And they also work with dynamics very well. The music is playful and melodic and concentrates on the song, rather that technical ability. So the 13 tracks and over 73 minutes of music still sound fresh after a couple of weeks of listening.
My small point of criticism would be the vocals. They might prove to be a bit of an acquired taste. However, over time they started to gel well with the music so they get the job done.
All in all I can recommend this album to prog lovers big and small. Its adventurous nature will keep you entertained for many hours.
"Nostalgia for Infinity is an exquisite mix of appealing songwriting, intricate musicianship, and unconventional techniques that channels multiple genres and eras into a deeply unified journey." Review by Jordan Blum - Rebel Noise
Reviewed by Jordan Blum
Nostalgia for Infinity is an exquisite mix of appealing songwriting, intricate musicianship, and unconventional techniques that channels multiple genres and eras into a deeply unified journey.
English duo Hats Off Gentlemen It's Adequate certainly chose a moniker worthy of curiosity and remembrance; fortunately, their music proves to be just as intriguing and enduring. Centered around multiinstrumentalists and vocalists Malcolm Galloway and Mark Gatland—with support from vocalist/flutist Kathryn Thomas—the group aptly classifies itself as a “genre-defying band combining prog/alt-rock and electronica, with elements of minimalism, funk, classical, acoustic, and metal.” Indeed, there’s virtually as much vintage progressive rock in their music as there is late 70s/early 80s glam rock and new wave, leading to irresistibly wide-ranging and pristine compositions. Their latest collection, the semi-oxymoronic Nostalgia for Infinity, does an excellent job showcasing that cohesive fluidity. It frequently juxtaposes wonderful accessibility and eclectic abstractions, resulting in a fascinating journey that requires repeated visits to fully appreciate.
Nostalgia for Infinity follows 2018’s Out of Mind LP, and it contains two out of three pieces from 2019’s Ark EP. According to the band, it centers on “the frailty of civilisation, from a variety of perspectives, including seven tracks inspired by the science fiction novels of author and former astrophysicist Alastair Reynolds.” Elsewhere, there are pieces “relating to nanotechnology, the Second World War, and environmental destruction.” Clearly, there’s a lot of historical, philosophical. and sci-fi weight to the lyrical content, and luckily, its melodies and arrangements make you want to dig into each and every sentiment.
The first five tracks are considered separate statements, yet they go together quite well. Specifically, opener “Century Rain” is raw and apocalyptic yet also wistful and ornate, combining the airy deliveries of Tim Bowness with a strong sense of galactic warmth that’s perhaps best considered as the sonic offspring of Pink Floyd and Jethro Tull. From there, “Twin Earth” is sparser and more meditative; “Ark” is like a modern take on Mike Oldfield’s classic introductory instrumentals; “Nanobotoma” is more conventionally eloquent but rebellious; and “Chasing Neon” conjures the electronic frenzy of Ayreon and The Pineapple Thief. Of course, these comparisons aren’t meant to signal unoriginality; rather, they’re meant to demonstrate how speckled yet integrated the record is.
That harmony is only accentuated once the “Redemption Ark Suite”—comprising tracks six through ten—begins. The relatively industrial and shimmering “Glitterband” is a strong start for the mini sequence (especially since its built upon beautifully hypnotic piano motifs), whereas “Conjoiners” incorporates Genesis-esque keyboard work into a subtly atmospheric environment. Next, “Scorpio” borders on jazz fusion trickiness and experimentation, contrasting well with the chillingly pastoral sound collage of the subsequent “Inhibitors”. It’s reminiscent of early Porcupine Tree in the best ways, and also serves as a lovely prelude to the full-bodied and serene closing title track. It works almost like a culmination of what came before it, leaving the cosmically earthy “Voyager” and the feistily melodic “Sixth Extinction” as resonant endcaps.
Nostalgia for Infinity is an exquisite mix of appealing songwriting, intricate musicianship, and unconventional techniques that channels multiple genres and eras into a deeply unified journey. By evoking so many influences and styles at once, Hats Off Gentlemen It's Adequate comes off as commendably original and ambitious. In a world in which so much music is exhaustively predictable and safe, it’s nice to find an LP that’s so surprising and absorbing at once. If you aren’t already tipping your cap to the London duo, Nostalgia for Infinity is a great reason to do so.